When is Enough, Enough?

microsoft-wayAsk anyone who has known me for more than a few hours and odds are they can tell you that I love technology! Specifically, I am a huge fan of the Microsoft software developer ecosystem. I was a Java developer before .NET/C# became available but, once I got my hands on C#, there was no going back (to Java)! To me, .NET & C# was what Java should have been from the beginning.

Since those days, I’ve written many apps – web apps, “fat client” (Windows) apps and mobile apps. Since Windows Phone (7) came on the scene back in 2010 I’ve published 9 apps (some better than others :-)) for Windows Phone. For me, it was a natural fit – writing mobile apps using C#. It leveraged the skills and knowledge that I already had so I could focus on learning the ins-and-outs of creating mobile apps rather than learning a new development language and framework.

Nokia-Lumia-520Ever since I started writing apps for Windows Phone I have pretty much subscribed to the notion that I wanted to be able to write apps for whatever phone I was carrying around using C# and the skills that I have spent years building up. In fact, 12 out of the last 13 phones I’ve owned have all be Windows-based phones. A few years ago, I wrote My Smartphone Past where I detailed the various phones that I’ve owned and used. Since that post, I’ve gone through several more phones, all Windows Phones, with my current phone being the Lumia Icon. I mention the above because I think it’s important to know how invested I’ve been in the Windows Phone ecosystem. I’ve used Windows-based phones for years. I love Windows Phone 7/7.5/8/8.1/10.

However, over the past (give or take) year, it has been hard to watch the Windows Phone ecosystem dwindle and all but die around me. Most of my friends and co-workers that once owned Windows Phones have moved on to iOS or Android mobile devices. In fact, most of the world that was once on Windows Phone has done the same thing. When Mary Jo Foley reported she was “breaking up” with Windows Phone, it was pretty obvious that the platform was in trouble (from a consumer point of view).

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Source: Gartner (May 2016)

A lot of people talk about the Windows Phone “app gap”. For me, that has never been an issue. The apps I cared about there were there. Until recently. Specifically, there are two examples:

One app I have been using for a while, Life360 Family Locator, disappeared from the Windows Phone store! One of the few apps that I used a lot (it’s how I kept track of our oldest son while out and about) is no longer available for me to use. I either have to find a similar product (not sure one exists for Windows Phone) or I have to build one (which I’m not opposed to but, why?!).

A few days after I noticed the Life360 app had disappeared, I was at a conference with a buddy where we learned about the Coca-Cola Freestyle app. Neither one of us realized there was an app where you could create all sorts of strange and crazy mixtures from your favorite soft drink flavors and, using the app, have the nearest Coca-Cola Freestyle machine mix and dispense it for you! My friend immediately downloaded the app on his iPhone. I hesitated to look on my Lumia Icon but decided to do it anyway. Yep, as expected, not there! :-\

Granted, this is an app that I would likely use once or twice and never use again but that’s not the point. The point is we were both somewhat excited by the concept of “designing” soft drinks on our phones and having a machine create it for us and I wasn’t able to play along.

Fast forward to yesterday morning where I decided to update to the latest Redstone preview build for Windows 10 Mobile. The update seemed to go well. Once the update was completed, everything was working (at least, it appeared to be working). It wasn’t long that I noticed that my phone was running really hot. I figured it was still updating apps or sending telemetry data or whatever. This morning, I took my phone off the charger at 08:45 with it being at 100%. About 2 1/2 hours later, at 10:15, my phone shut down because the battery had completely drained!

Now, I realize that the Preview releases are just that, previews. However, that’s just another straw on the proverbial camel’s back. Add that to the fact that my phone has been sporadically rebooting when I take a photo for the first time in several hours (while running the latest release version of Windows 10 Mobile) and I’ve become increasingly disillusioned. Add to all of this, Microsoft’s silence on their “end game” for Windows Phone and where they plan to take it, if anywhere and I finally succumbed.

s7edgeI happen to be fortunate enough to be in a position where I work for a company that will provide me with a mobile phone. This morning I visited our Giga-Bar (our version of a Genius Bar where we can interact with our Technical Support team – a really cool benefit at our company!), threw in the proverbial towel and ordered a new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. While I’m not overly excited about moving to Android (it’d be even harder to move to iOS!) I can say:

  1. I will still be able to write apps for my phone (the S7) with C# now that Microsoft has acquired Xamarin.
  2. The “app gap” will no longer be an issue.
  3. I no longer have to worry about the direction of the platform because it’s pretty obvious, at least for now, that Android (and Samsung) is a serious player in the mobile market.

All this does not imply I won’t still run into issues. I have no doubt that I will. If nothing else, at least they will be a different set of issues :-) I’ve followed mobile devices enough to know that Android has had its share of battles – battery life issues, security/malware issues, performance/sluggishness, etc. However, I feel like I’ve been all but pushed away from my Windows Phone based on the deafening silence that is the (public) direction of Windows Phone.

So, all this said, I should get my new phone on Monday and I’ll start a new journey with Android. I will be spending some time learning more about Xamarin now that I have a need/desire to write apps for Android so that will be exciting and new. This does not mean, however, that I will stop following Windows Phone. I will be keeping a very close eye on the platform. If adoption of Windows Phone picks up, I’ll likely breathe some new life into the apps I currently have published and might even publish a few more. If the platform gets back on track and gains some market share and support from the major mobile carriers (specifically, Verizon) then I’d love to come back to the Windows Phone world again.

Time will tell…

I’m curious… what are your thoughts on this? Have you switched? Are you going to hold on to the bitter end?

  • I feel your pain Jeff. I was in the same boat. Microsoft updated my HTC 8x before they were supposed to and bricked it. Verizon replaced it with a Nokia 928. I loved Windows 10 mobile for the most part until after a couple of months my replacement 928 suddenly refused to power on or charge. Unfortunately Verizon, for such a large mobile carrier, has a pathetic selection of devices, especially Windows Phone. And, thus, I finally became a convert and picked up a Droid Turbo 2.

    • Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Verizon will have any new options any time soon – maybe never? I’m hopeful, as I stated in my post above, that Microsoft will get back in the mobile game at some point. If they do, and they are actually a “player”, then I’ll switch back.

      That said, I will still be developing software using Microsoft tools. The only difference is that the physical device I carry around in my pocket will run Android. I’ll still make use of OneDrive, Outlook and Cortana and the software that I create will be created in C# :-)

      • Same here. It will be an interesting landscape with the xamarin acquisition. The timing is interesting. I some development with Unity3d and they’ve delayed profile upgrades because of xMarin licensing costs. Now it’s free but they’ve already moved toward their own IL to Native compiler.

        By the way, I won your headphone prize at HDC last year and love them. Thank you. :)

  • 80s Rocker

    I currently have a Windows phone from Sprint (Samsung) and agree selection sucks. I will probably stick with Windows phones till my phone dies or at least a year after Win10 mobile is released. Interested in seeing how Continuum works and if it will have any affect on market share. Not quit there, but getting closer.

    Nice thing is, with Xamarin you can write apps for all three platforms. So Xamarin is the top needs programming tool I’m going to spend time learning. I’m also like you, will probably go with Android phone because it would be hard for me to get iPhone on principle. They make awesome phones, but they are too proprietary for me.

    I’ll still own a Surface II and plan to get either a Surface 4 or Microsoft Book. They still make the best “hybrid” devices and lead the market in that area. I think that trend will continue, especially as more EOM’s release hybrid devices for Win10. I personally think this is one life the areas where MS should put effort in to keep their dominance in this space.

    • Yeah, I have a Surface Pro 4 and it’s where I do all my mobile development. I have it docked to to 24″ monitors so it works out pretty well.

      I’d like to play with Continuum a bit but my Icon doesn’t support it and Verizon doesn’t offer any options that do, either so I’m out of luck for now.

      I also selected Android for the same reason – Apple’s closed ecosystem. I do not own a Mac (or any other Apple product for that matter) and I don’t want to have to buy a Mac just so I can publish apps to my phone and/or store.

      • 80s Rocker

        That is one thing I have to figure out with Xamarin, how to compile and publish iPhone apps without having to have Mac. Maybe you don’t need it with Xamarin, have not looked into it yet.

        • I’m pretty certain you still have to have Mac to publish unfortunately.

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When is Enough, Enough?

by Jeff Bramwell time to read: 5 min
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